West End theatres to fall dark once more

West End theatres have been given the devastating news that they must close their doors once more as London moves back into the highest tier of Covid-19 restrictions.

In the last couple of weeks, West End shows had started to reopen with some smaller shows welcoming audiences back to the countries capital. Shows that had opened included Six the Musical, Love Letters, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and a concert version of Les Miserables starring Michael Ball and Alfie Boe. Socially distanced performances to smaller audiences had been allowed in London since the last national lockdown ended, however, it seems the efforts were simply not enough.

The new Covid lockdown means that as of tonight, London theatres will close their doors for an indefinite period of time with The Society of London Theatre commenting that the move would cause “catastrophic financial difficulties” for venues, producers and thousands of workers.

It was nice while it lasted, tweeted Carrie Hope Fletcher.

Producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh said the news was “devastating for both the theatre and the economy”.

The constant changes of rules and advice we have received is impossible for any business to react to, he continued. Where is the leadership this government promised?

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who owns the London Palladium, said it seemed “arbitrary and unfair” that theatre performances were being banned while shopping could continue. But he said he “reluctantly” agrees with the decision to put London into tier three.

Producer Michael Harrison announced on Twitter that its “final” two performances would take place on Tuesday and criticised the government’s “yo-yoing approach on advice”.

He said:

It is not possible for any business to function in an environment where our leaders seem to have no idea how our country will look from one week to the next.

The Society of London Theatre’s chief executive Julian Bird said this was “devastating news for the city’s world-leading theatre industry”.

The past few days have seen venues beginning to reopen with high levels of Covid security, welcoming back enthusiastic, socially distanced audiences, he said.

Theatres across London will now be forced to postpone or cancel planned performances, causing catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of industry workers.

He urged the government to “recognise the huge strain this has placed on the sector and look at rapid compensation to protect theatres and their staff over Christmas in all areas of the country” that are in tier three.

Mr Dowden, the UK’s appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeted the rules had been tightened because the capital’s rising coronavirus figures were “deeply concerning” and the remaining £400m from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund would “be there to help those affected by [the] changes”.

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

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